GENEVA, June 17, 2020 — Racist and oppressive regimes should recuse themselves from today’s UN Human Rights Council urgent debate on racism and police brutality, says UN Watch, a Geneva-based independent human rights group that monitors the United Nations.
In testimony delivered before the 47-nation council yesterday (see below), UN Watch directed its appeal to such council members as Mauritania, which has up to 500,000 black slaves; Libya, which has up to a million African migrants treated as virtual slaves; and Venezuela, which kills protesters and has been accused of crimes against humanity.
Other council members with egregious records of racism or police brutality who approved today’s urgent debate include Burkina Faso (which initiated the session on behalf of African states), Bangladesh, Cameroon, DR Congo, Pakistan, Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan and Qatar.
Russia, Cuba, Saudi Arabia and China are expected to be elected to the council in October.
China recently chaired the UNHRC process for interviewing and recommending the UNHRC’s next expert on freedom of speech, to be appointed in July.
The following statement was delivered by UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer in testimony before the United Nations Human Rights Council, in its debate on June 16, 2020:
In the archives of Reverend Martin Luther King, there is a telegram from March 1965, sent to him in Selma, Alabama, by his friend and fellow civil rights leader Morris Abram, our founder, days after Bloody Sunday. Morris Abram condemned the “shameful exhibition of brutality” by police officers at the peaceful protests, and expressed solidarity with the “great cause” of justice and equality.
Sadly, a half century later, UN Watch must again today condemn the shameful exhibition of brutality by police officers, in the killing of George Floyd. We continue to stand unequivocally with the struggle against racism and police brutality.
In the spirit of Morris Abram—who served at the United Nations, and drafted the 1964 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination—UN Watch has been a leading voice at this Human Rights Council, fighting discrimination worldwide. When there was genocide in Darfur, it was UN Watch that organized the global Activist Summit, held here in 2007.
And every year, we campaign against the election of racist and brutal regimes to this Council. Too often, however, because of back-room political deals, they win. The accused become the judges.
If we wish to honor the memory of George Floyd, tomorrow’s urgent debate on racism and police brutality must be serious and credible — and not become a farce.
Accordingly, we propose that Council members which practice systematic racism or police brutality refrain from taking part — that they recuse themselves.
We ask Mauritania: given that you have an estimated 500,000 black slaves, with CNN referring to Mauritania as “slavery’s last stronghold,” will your country recuse itself from this urgent debate on racism against blacks?
We ask Libya: given that your country subjects up to a million African migrants to virtual slavery—trapped in a terrifying cycle of extortion, imprisonment, forced labor and prostitution—will Libya recuse itself?
We ask Eritrea: given that your country has been condemned—by this Council itself—for “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations,” including arbitrary detention and torture, will Eritrea recuse itself?
We ask Cameroon: given that your country systematically bans peaceful demonstrations, crushes protests by the English-speaking population, and has committed atrocities, including massacring civilians, rape, and burning villages, will Cameroon recuse itself?
We ask the Democratic Republic of Congo: aside from being the rape capital of the world, given that your police just 2 months ago killed 55 people, in a coordinated crackdown on a religious sect, will DRC recuse itself?
We ask Venezuela: given that in just 5 days last year, your forces killed 47 protesters, and arbitrarily detained 900 people, will the Maduro government recuse itself?
Mr. Chairman, when will the UN stop electing racists and oppressors to be judges on human rights?
.@Reuters quotes my UN speech about tomorrow's UNHRC Urgent Debate on U.S. racism & police brutality: "We are concerned this session may be a farce when some of the worst practitioners of police brutality & racism will be the ones asked to be the judges."https://t.co/D5iogtg6E8 pic.twitter.com/OsELj8OzNK
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) June 16, 2020
I thank you.